Do you ever wish that you could pause a situation, rewind and pull back what you just said or did? There are certainly days that I wish that I could reverse time and have a “do-over” of a conversation or situation. Sometimes words seem to fall out of our mouths, and we wish you could grab them back. What if you could prevent this? Read on!
While we can’t change the past, we can slow down upcoming exchanges and events to avert some of the blunders that inescapably take place. How do you slow time? If you have been following the last few of my blogs, you know that it takes Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is when you become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions. Emotions are what dictate how we feel and subsequently what we say and do. Becoming progressively more astute about what you are feeling requires that you “slow down time” and widen the gap between what happened and your reaction to what happened.
The gap you say?
Yes, there is a little space that I want you to check out. You want to scrutinize what transpired after an incident and before a reaction. That minuscule second of time between the two is the chief segment of time that we want to examine.
Find your false story in the gap
When examining this chunk of time, you are looking to deduce what happened after an incident and what story you made up about that incident. It is that story that resulted in the feeling and then the reaction that you next had. I use the word “story” for a reason. Some may say, truth. However, it isn’t the truth. It is only our truth. It is the story we make up.
Let's break it apart a little bit further
Part One – The incident
Part Two – Enter into the gap – The thought
What we mistakenly think happens after the incident is that we have a reaction. What is more accurate is that there is a gap of time after the incident, but before the reaction. In that time, much transpires inside your mind and through your body.
When that thing occurred;
Usually, it’s not a conscious thought. In most cases, you aren’t even remotely aware that there was anything going on, but trust me, it's there.
During this gap you have thoughts such as:
Part Three – Still in the gap – The feeling
The thought about the incident then creates the feeling. You experience fear, anxiety, or frustration. That feeling is felt in your body.
Part Four – The reaction
It is the thought and the feeling about the incidence that dictates the way you respond or react. This includes what you say and what you do.
A reaction is unconscious.
A response is conscious
Those times when the words fall out of our mouth, and we wish we could grab them back are usually reactions. When we get angry over someone’s insensitive comment, it’s usually because we weren’t able to process the thoughts and feelings attached to that hot spot they just hit. Thus, we lash back hurtfully.
REDO of Part Four – The response
When we widen that gap of time between what happened and our subsequent actions, we can first get clear on the story we are making up in our head and our feelings attached to that story. When we do that, we have a choice to believe that story or alter it.
The same could be true at work. Perhaps you feel that your boss is attacking you and your feeling backed into a corner. The reaction might be to get angry and come out fighting. Instead, by widening that gap, your subsequent thoughts and feelings can be different.
A person with high Emotional Intelligence might notice:
"I’m feeling attacked and notice my body getting into fight or flight mode. Wait a minute. I know I’m a good person. I think maybe what he’s really trying to say is more about the project and not me. It might be his fear of failure coming through. We are actually on the same side. I sure as heck don’t want this project to fail at this either."
Our response, after this thoughtful pause in our minds, will across more in control than with fists flying. The words that consciously come out of our mouth, rather than fall out, will serve to move the project and the relationship forward.
Increase Awareness Means Increased Control
When you are more aware, mindful and conscious, you get to choose your response. This increased awareness and choice of action is Emotional Intelligence. Not only are you aware of your emotions, but you are managing them. This increased awareness allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings and decide if they are true. Then, you can change them in you want. What you’ll find if you do this more and more, is that a lot of your thoughts and feelings are very unhelpful, and you’ll want to do some work on changing them!
Do you find sometimes that your emotions sneak up on you suddenly your afraid of losing it. Either the tears threaten to leak out or the anger boils over before you can control it. You are not alone. Many women have had the experience of being hijacked by their emotions. But here is the thing, It's not about having emotions, it's about not being able to control them. What you need to learn is to recognize your emotions and then manage them. You need to develop your emotional intelligence.
Become aware of and then manage your emotions
Emotionally intelligent managers kick butt over their unaware and knowledgeable deficient peers. These aware leaders not only know what their emotions are, but they can manage their emotions. That means they are in control of how they feel versus their feelings being in control of them.
Emotional Intelligence increases leader effectiveness
An individual who is high in EI rarely has their thoughts hijack them. Emotionally Intelligent Leaders don’t lose it when someone says something that sparks their anger or annoyance. A leader who is in control of what’s going on inside of them will be aware they are irritated, but be able to catch themselves before they roll their eyes, let out a sigh or have a sarcastic comment slip out.
How do you learn this?
Individuals that have high EI are incredibly aware. They know what triggers them. They are clear on what is going on inside of their head. They can identify thoughts and feelings. They name them. You my dear, need to become aware of what's going on inside of your mind. To increase your level of EI, you need to become aware of your thoughts.
Two Steps to Emotional Intelligence
Step 1 – Recognize emotions
Step 2 – Manage emotions
Do you know what your thought was?
It’s the thought part we want to drill down deeper into and see what’s going on there. That thought is dictating your emotion. We want to get the point where you are aware of the thought and able to change it if need be.
Getting clear on your thoughts
To get a better understanding of what you are thinking, you have to slow down time. You have to widen that gap between the stimulus and the consequential feeling. It’s is like putting a magnifying glass on the event and your emotion and see if you can see in between the two. You want to detect what thought was there in between the event and the emotion.
It starts with reflection
To get awareness of what is going on in that gap requires intentional thinking. You must create a routine that has you daily look at that space between what happened and how you reacted. It’s hard in the moment. You will get there over time. Initially, though you will want to look back at what has happened and reflect on it.
Start with journaling
The best way to get this slow-motion replay effect is to spend time journaling. When you set aside a few minutes to let your thoughts and emotions flow on paper, you’ll start to see more of what is there. Doing this writing without judgment is critical. You must let your pen just flow. To get to that uninhibited place will take time and practice. It's worth the effort to do that.
The 6 tricks to rewarding reflective journaling
Do the work - Make the effort
Working on this first step of bringing awareness to your emotions and feelings can be hard work. We don’t naturally go there. It will feel weird and awkward perhaps for a while. In doing so, though, you will automatically become more aware of what’s going on inside of you that is controlling what is going on outside of you. Gradually you’ll gain back the control and learn to manage your feelings and responses to people and events. It takes time. Be patient with yourself. When you do, you’ll find it was worth the effort and commitment.
Do not, under any circumstance, show emotions at work. Zero emotions are important for Leaders!
You’ve heard the adage: don’t let them see you sweat. Similarly, we learn, don’t let them see you angry, don’t lose it and certainly don’t ever cry. Perhaps a few “good” emotions are ok, but only in moderation. Heaven forbid we are called soft. Does this sound familiar?
We all have emotions
We cannot stop feeling. In truth, we do feel angry on occasions. Sometimes we are embarrassed, annoyed, frustrated, irritated, or feel hurt. At other times, we are excited, overjoyed or thrilled. Then there are the times we feel frazzled, overwhelmed or panicked. In any given day we could have hundreds of feelings pass through us.
These moods, sensations and thoughts impact our work
Most of us have been trained to push those emotions down. Perhaps not consciously, but subconsciously we’ve learned to set aside how we are feeling and just get the job done. We’ve been trained not to show what we are feeling.
We put fake smiles. We armor up with a mask to prevent people from seeing what’s going on inside. We push down the rage, the sadness, and the fear.
We can't hide emotions
Nevertheless, our emotions are often as plain as the nose on our face. The way we feel oozes out of us. Our anger seeps out. Our rage drips through the sarcasm in our voice. The irritation is visible in her eyebrow raises and our audible sighs. Everyone around us clearly knows we have feelings; the challenge is that we are not clearly expressing our emotions.
You need a higher EI (Emotional Intelligence)
Emotional intelligence is not only becoming more aware of your emotions but managing your emotions. It is the managing part that is extremely critical in leadership. But it starts with awareness. You need to know when your buttons are pushed and catch yourself before you react.
Awareness prevents knee-jerk reactions
It all starts with being aware of your emotions
To be aware of your feelings means that you:
Your assignment then is to start with working on increasing your awareness of your emotion
Emotions aren’t bad or wrong
Emotions are necessary. It’s important to become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions within your work environment and in life. Next week I will talk more about the managing part but for this week simply focus on becoming more aware of what is you’re feeling at any given moment.
Rid your old thoughts
Remember emotions aren’t bad or wrong. They are necessary. It’s important to become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions within your work environment and in life. Next week I will talk more about the managing part but for this week simply focus on becoming more aware of what is you’re feeling at any given moment.
Have you ever felt like an outsider?
Perhaps you were the one individual in the room that no one was talking to you.
Have you ever felt that not one cares about you?
Maybe your boss didn't have a clue what you were doing or why you are doing it?
That feeling sucks too.
I’ve felt I’m an outsider, and I bet you have too
Not all the time, but you’ve probably felt that sense that no one cares about you. You walked into a meeting, and there was a group on the side talking. They didn’t seem to notice that you had entered the room. No raised heads. No eye contact. You overheard their conversation and knew you have something to contribute, but they didn’t acknowledge you, let alone asked for your opinion. Ouch!
Most of the time you can shrug it off knowing it wasn’t that they didn’t care about you or your ideas. They were just engrossed in their conversation. Perhaps later they did look up, invite you over and away you went.
That feeling sucks
It’s that initial feeling, though, of not being noticed or not perceiving you are a valuable part of the group that, sad to say, many employees feel on an ongoing basis. They don’t get the impression they are seen, nor do they feel appreciated. Far too often, employees feel insignificant, secondary and dispensable.
These people give less than 100%
When you don’t feel respected, you don’t commit to your work. That means you are producing significantly less than 100% of what you are capable of generating.
When you don’t feel like you matter, that your work counts or that you are cared about, you put your time in and go home. Barely.
You want 100% employee buy-in
My guess is you want more of your team. I suspect you are looking for committed, dedicated and loyal staff. I bet you want people who are invested and care about the work they are doing, the quality of their work, and the impact they are making.
How do you get that?
You care. Simply put:
When you change your interactions with your staff so that they feel that you care about them, their work and their impact, you will find yourself bragging to others about your stellar team players.
Do these 3 things daily to get stellar employee performance
1) Personally, acknowledge your team members
Say hi. Use their name. Call them. Send them an email about them, not what you want them to do. Maybe you text your staff regularly.
2) Ensure they understand the meaning in their work
Everything people do is connected to a bigger project.
The job of a leader is to make the connection for their team. You need to help them to see that all of the smaller pieces all connected to a bigger project or vision.
3) Use all-inclusive language
Approach conversations as if you are all in it together, because you really are all in it together!
Use your words to communicate that everything you are doing is connected, because everything is truly connected!
You can see this in the above example about goals.
Discovering you do have a stellar team
Make these deeper connections with your staff:
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.